JDS’ Middle School Judaics program is designed to deepen and expand students’ comfort and connection with Jewish practice, history and peoplehood. It is comprised of two main curricular areas, Hebrew language instruction and Jewish Social Studies and related subjects.
The MS Hebrew language program is organized around themes that are relevant to students’ lives and translatable to hands-on projects and learning experiences, including Circles of Joy (which focuses on hobbies and feelings,) food and culture, the environment, rights and responsibilities, all Jewish holidays and a tour through Israel. Students are evaluated and encouraged through the Proficiency Approach, a national skill-based system for measuring student growth in second language acquisition.
Our MS students take many leadership roles in school, including three opportunities that grow out of Hebrew class.
- 6th Grade: creates and presents a program to mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day
- 7th Grade: creates and presents a program to mark Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day
- 8th Grade: presents and performs an impressive all-Hebrew play
Jewish Social Studies
Through the inquiry approach, our students learn about Jewish history from the time of the Kings and Prophets through the Holocaust and establishment of the State of Israel. The learning is project-based and includes research, writing and group work. The exciting units students study include Kings Are People Too, in which students reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of early Israelite Kings as well as their own; Jews in Two Places, which compares the experience of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews during the Middle Ages; and Choosing Life, Rescue and Resistance during the Shoah. MS students also learn about the development of Jewish Law in a class called Toshba and develop their personal theology while learning from varied thinkers in God Talk.
Program Highlight: 7th Grade Participation in JCAT, Jewish Court of All Time, This is a web-based educational simulation in which students take on a persona and participate in a debate of a timely issue from Jewish history. Our students thrive on this creative endeavor, which encourages research, higher order thinking and the taking of others’ perspective.